Archive for October, 2011

Responses to Calley Apology Keep Coming

October 30, 2011

It is easy to get the  idea that people only read my latest blog posts, but when comments continue to come in on posts I have  written more than two years ago, I realize that a blog can take on the characteristics of a book. Because of search engines and links, people continue to read your collection of articles.  Just about every week, the largest number of hits for a single article is the one I wrote in 2009 about former U.S Army Lieutenant William Calley’s apology speech to Columbus Kiwanians.  Not only do people continue to read it, some also continue to comment on it.  

I thought the one I received today was interesting enough to not only add the comment to the post on “When is an Order Unlawful,” which related to the Calley story, but to run it as a featured post.  Former Jordan Vocational High Student Bob Cox sent this comment:

Dick, I’m a little late finding your blog.  I saw a post on Facebook about it.

Bob Cox

I was working in Columbus at AHP Medical Gloves at the time of Lt. Calley’s trial.  I recall there were many army wives at the factory and a few of them penciled a petition saying Calley should be set free. One of them handed it to me and said, “Sign This.” I told them that was impossible because I thought he was guilty of shooting Senior Citizens , children, women and non- combatants. This enraged many people and someone said, “Thats the way you damned Mexicans think.”  Actually I’m Welsh Irish descent, but I lived off and on in Mexico and in fact am now in Mexico. In the heat and ignorance of the moment, and I’m sure the ladies there most of whom were married to soldiers, felt that their husbands could be in Calley’s shoes. They handed the petition to a Japanese girl who I knew had been in Hiroshima when the A-bomb was dropped and told her, “Sign this.” I told her, “Dont sign it Aiko. The next petition will be one saying lets drop an A-bomb on Hiroshima.”

 “But this might happen to my husband,” she said. I remarked, “Somehow I can’t see your husband machine gunning 6-month-old children in a ditch.”
On another note, I was in the ROTC at Jordan High. One day the Captain was giving a talk on types of ammo used in M1′s in the basement firing range. Black tips are armor-piercing; red tip bullets are incendiaries. You see a grass shack on a hill, you fire a few rounds into it and set it on fire, the enemy runs out and you shoot them.  I asked,  “And if the people fleeing are civilians?” He said, “Shoot them anyway, its good target practice.” I remarked, “Isn’t that against Geneva Convention rules?” He glared at me and said, “You’re a G…D… Commie arent you?”  That was the beginning of the end of my military career at Jordan. After that I tried to set a Guiness World record of getting the most demerits. In two months I was taking Study Hall instead of ROTC.
Enjoy your articles Dick. It’s taking me awhile to go through older posts.

You can learn more about Bob Cox by going to his blog, Mexico Mystic’s Blog.

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More on the Classroom Digital Revolution

October 26, 2011

CONNIE USSERY, RETIRED MUSCOGEE COUNTY SCHOOL DISTRICT MEDIA SPECIALIST,  WHO NOW TEACHES CARVER HIGH TEACHERS TWO DAYS A WEEK HOW TO TEACH WITH ELECTRONIC MEDIA, SENT THIS CLARIFICATION OF THE PREVIOUS POST ON HER TALK LAST SUNDAY TO COLUMBUS UNITARIAN UNIVERSALISTS.    

As far as I know, all core teachers at Carver utilize netbooks in instruction and I think most of the electives teachers do, when
appropriate, because tech support folks are bombarded when any networking problems arise. The students have to have their netbooks up and working during the school day and they make sure we keep them online. Teachers make sure their students bring them to class.  Paper textbooks will always be useful for classroom teachers as supplementary materials and especially for some types of special needs students.  Elective courses may rely on paper texts for a lot longer than core teachers because those courses are often taught using a variety of print and digital resources anyway.  I still think there are some teachers around the district who are “holdouts’ who prefer print textbooks, but I can’t imagine that they don’t utilize digital resources and software for projects.

Also, the researchers who talk about the differences in brain development among digital native children don’t make it sound like a bad thing: it’s just something that we teachers have to understand. Our students are as casual with technology as we used to be with doll houses and match box cars.  Their “learning curve” is way ahead of ours.

I hope I wasn’t too misleading during the Q & A yesterday.  I probably shouldn’t have tried to talk much about this since my talk was mainly about resources for UU, but I get excited and I find I have to reassure the people who aren’t comfortable with computer-based learning and project development, as some of the questions from parents and instructors indicated.

It’s very exciting seeing the teachers and the students working so hard to bring Carver into the 21st Century in instruction and in
facilities.The new building opens next fall and it’s going to be a showcase for technology and learning.

The New, Electronic Face of Education

October 23, 2011

WHAT ARE TEXTING, SMART PHONES, TWITTER, FACEBOOK, VIDEO GAMES DOING TO  OUR CHILDREN’S BRAINS?

Can the Facebook, Twitter, Texting, video game generation concentrate enough to become adequately educated for the future?  At the Unitarian Fellowship of Columbus service today, retired CSU History Professor Mark Berger raised that question to MCSD retired teacher and Media Specialist Connie Ussery, who. in her retirement instructs Carver High teachers in using electronic media to teach. The school is transitioning to digital textbooks.  Some teachers, she says, are making the transition, others are hanging on to paper textbooks.

Connie acknowledged the problem of attention spans shortening with constant bombardment of our young people’s brains by fast changing electronic media stimulation, and said the huge amount of time students spend looking at two-dimensional electronic images is definitely affecting the brains of young people. However, she says it has to be effectively used because electronic media images are here to stay and will probably increase.

And to think, I still read paper books, but I  do get my daily Ledger-Enquirer electronically.  

BOUGHT GOVERNMENT IS THE PROBLEM

October 20, 2011

It is just incredible that one simple redirection of federal funds could dramatically increase new jobs in America.  Lloyd Chapman, president of the American Small Business League,  said on CNBC today that the federal government, by law, is mandated to channel 23 percent of federal contracts to small businesses. He also said that small businesses create a hundred percent of net new jobs, but that most of the federal money is going to the Fortune 500 companies that have not increased the number of net new jobs in 30 years. 30 YEARS! No doubt they have shifted tons of jobs to China and other low-pay countries, FOR CRYING OUT LOUD  – sorry for the screaming capitalizations, but, if true, this is insane – start channeling that money to small businesses where the jobs are created.

He says the president’s jobs program simply is about cutting taxes, and that study after study by the nation’s Nobel Prize winning economists have shown that cutting taxes does not create new jobs.  If what he says is true,  it is immoral not to give small businesses the 23 percent of federal contracts they are supposed to be getting. In fact, the percentage should be greatly increased.

Why hasn’t this happened? The obvious answer is that the big corporations have the money to buy the government. It costs a fortune to win a congressional or presidential election. It  seems that BOUGHT GOVERNMENT is the reason we are in the economic mess we are in right now. BOUGHT GOVERNMENT is what we have. It has to change or things will simply go from bad to worse for America’s middle class. 

Thanks to the Coca-Cola Space Science Center for Great Service to Columbus Seniors

October 17, 2011

After last week’s Coca-Cola Space Science Center C.A.L.L. class on America’s putting men on the moon, I went up to instructor Scott Norman, shown above, who  is Director of the Challenger Center for the CCSSC, and told him that his presentation was superb – it definitely was – and recalled my experience of watching the first moon landing on TV.

On July  20, 1969, my wife Judy, ten-year-old son Rick, one of his buddies, and I were sitting in our den in our home in Columbia, South Carolina – I was working for WIS-TV at the time – watching breathlessly as Neil Armstrong       stepped onto the surface of the Moon.  At the same time that we were watching this live TV coverage, we could look through our sliding glass doors and see the Moon.  This was probably the most spectacular TV show ever. I can’t think of anything that tops it.

Scott Norman and CCSSC Director Shawn Cruzen are two of the best teachers I have ever had. They are inventive, creative, humorous, and stay on the move as they use Power Point, videos and even hand-held models to hold interest and impart tons of information. The secret of their success is simply that they are totally passionate about their subject.

This quarter Scott is teaching “The History of Space” to a bunch of seniors like me who participate in the Columbus Academy Lifelong Learning program at the CSU Elizabeth Bradley Turner Center for Continuing Education.

The course deals with the development of the space programs in the United States and the Soviet Union, and now Russia, that started back in 1957 when the USSR launched Sputnik.  It continues right up until now, a time when the United States has to depend on Russia to provide rides to the International Space Station because the U.S. space shuttle program ended recently.

It is truly a dramatic subject, with upbeat highlights like our Apollo Moon exploration program that put men on the Moon, and with the tragic lows of losing lives to a fire in a space capsule training mission, and, later, exploding shuttles.  It is a very exhilarating, but extremely dangerous business.

Thanks to all of the great folks at the Coca-Cola Space Science Center for the truly compelling and entertaining classes you are supplying seniors of our area who know that a vital part of living is learning, something  one should never stop doing.

The class continues Thursday. Circumstances permitting, I’ll definately be there.

A Graduation Ceremony Worth Flying Almost a Thousand Miles to Attend

October 10, 2011

Brand new Airman Ben McMichael standing in front of the Alamo at San Antonio, TX. We had just left a small theater that showed a movie about the history of the Alamo. During the introduction the volunteer docent looked at Ben and thanked him for his service to his country which caused everyone in the audience to applaud. Then, on the way to the van a man walked up to Ben, shook his hand, and thanked him for his service.

It is always moving to see families coming from all over the United  States to see their progeny graduating from basic training at Fort Benning. Not just  the ceremonies, but in the restaurants and shopping malls around Columbus.  I got a taste of what  it means to those families and their military service members last weekend when I went to San Antonio, TX to see my grandson Ben graduate from U.S. Air Force basic training at Lackland Air  Force Base.  I was there with my son Rick, daughter-in-law Marian, grandson Christopher and his wife Kristen.

Not only did Ben go through the basic training course, but on top of that, he played first trumpet in the 323rd Training Squadron Drum and Bugle Corps.  When he introduced me to the lt. colonel commanding the 323rd,  he told him, “That’s my granddad. He was a drum major of an Army Band.” The colonel said, “Well, this must be really special for you, even if he only did it for 8 weeks.” Indeed it was.  I was a full-time bandsman,  but, even if he was only in an Air Force band for 8 weeks, we can both say we were in American military bands.  Ben is now at  Sheppard Air Force Base at Wichita Falls, TX, where he is in training to  be an ordnance supply and maintenance technician.

The 323rd Training Squadron Drum and Bugle Corps marching and playing for the 323rd graduation ceremony, Lackland U.S. Air Force Base, San Antonio, TX..

For someone who was a young boy during World War II, the graduation ceremony was quite impressive.  Surrounding the graduation pareade grounds were the  great fighters and bombers of that time.  Among those historic war birds was a P-51 “Mustang” – Ben’s training squadron is called the Mustangs, and there is a mural of a Mustang on his barrack’s wall – and there was a P-38 fighter, and a B-29 bomber, a B-17 “Flying Fortress,” a B-24 “Liberator,”  and the transport work horse of World War II, the C-47.

P-51 "Mustang" World War II fighter.

You take all of that, add the 323rd Drum and Bugle Corps playing “The Air Force Anthem,” you know, the one that starts with “Off we go into the wild blue  yonder,” and “America the Beautiful,”  an Air Force general welcoming the new Airmen into the “most powerful air force in history,” and the 600 graduates and their instructors passing in review, and you get a lot of cheering in the stands from moms and dads, sisters and brothers, granddads and grandmothers, and even aunts and uncles. (I met a lady from California who had come to see her nephew graduate.) You also get a lot of moist eyes, including mine.

Me and Ben following the 323rd Training Squadron Retreat and Coin Ceremony. Even though family were allowed to come over and talk with the graduating airmen, the drum and bugle corps members had to stay in formation. Why? Don't ask me.

After the Retreat and Coin ceremony was over, we went to a base store where Ben bought a coin just like the one he was given by the Mustang association, put it in the palm of his hand, and shook hands with me leaving the coin in my hand. It's the most valuable coin I will ever have.

Ben and his proud dad, my son Rick.